Sport

CRICKET WORLD CUP

Red-hot Proteas looking to avoid potential banana skin in clash against Netherlands

Red-hot Proteas looking to avoid potential banana skin in clash against Netherlands
Proteas captain Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock of South Africa run between the wickets during their Cricket World Cup 2023 match against Australia. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Gallo Images / Getty Images)

South Africa are ‘full steam ahead’ for their clash against the Flying Dutchmen as they look to go top of the Cricket World Cup table.

South Africa face off against Netherlands in their third Cricket World Cup match at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamshala tomorrow.

The Proteas are in wonderful early form, having thrashed Sri Lanka by 102-runs in their opening fixture before whipping Australia by 132-runs last Thursday.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Another De Kock century powers Proteas to successive Cricket World Cup victory

They are one of only three teams that are undefeated in the early stages of the competition thus far alongside hosts India as well as New Zealand who have both won their opening three matches.

Netherlands were the last team to qualify for the World Cup, having scraped through the Cricket World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in April.

The Flying Dutchmen have had a rough start to the tournament, falling to Pakistan by 81 runs in their first match and then being crushed by 99-runs by the Black Caps.

On form, South Africa should capture a convincing victory over the Oranje Men who currently languish second from bottom on the 10-team World Cup table.

But for Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma, there is no space for complacency to creep in.

“We’ll give them the respect they deserve, Netherlands,” the captain said on Monday.

“We know they are a side that will prepare with proper attention to detail, they’ll cover their bases.

“We have to make sure that we do the same thing, we have to make sure that we pitch up. There’s no expectation that things are going to happen our way.

“Most importantly we just want to keep backing what we’re doing. There’s no complacency or taking the game for granted.”

Aryan Dutt of the Netherlands

Aryan Dutt of the Netherlands bowls during their World Cup 2023 warm-up match against Australia. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav / Getty Images)

Rematch

The Proteas have been struck down by the Dutch in a World Cup before.

Netherlands beat South Africa by 13 runs in the final group game of the T20 World Cup in November last year to knock them out of the tournament when they looked a safe bet to make the semifinals.

“We definitely won’t be taking them lightly,” Bavuma added.

“That was a T20 World Cup last year, it’s a 50-over World Cup now. It’s a different format, a different ask to do your skills for a longer period of time. That’s something we all need to appreciate.”

Head coach Rob Walter was not part of that T20 World Cup shock defeat, having only joined the team as white-ball coach in March this year but has said his team has respect for every opposition they face.

“The only thing the past gives us is learning,” Walter said.

“So what do we learn from that occasion? As we know in this game, anyone can beat anyone if you’re on rock up on the day.

“We don’t disrespect any opposition by viewing them as lesser opponents. Everyone for us is exactly the same thing.

“It’s an opportunity to play the way we want to play the game. It’s to put our best foot forward and take care of our prep leading into the game and obviously fight really hard for those two points. 

“I would say that we have very little focus on what’s happened, more emphasis on what we can control.

Temba Bavuma of South Africa. (Photo: Robert Cianflone / Getty Images)

Minimal changes

Netherlands are the lowest-ranked team in the World Cup, lying in 14th place on the International Cricket Council rankings.

If ever there was an opportunity for the coaching staff to hand an opportunity to the members of the Proteas squad who have not had a game yet — such as Reeza Hendricks and Lizaad Williams — now would be it.

Walter, however, refuted that suggestion.

“To be dead honest, unlikely,” he said to the media.

“I suppose the beauty of the start of our campaign is we’ve had nice breaks in between each fixture. So we’ve had a great opportunity to recover well, train well, and prepare well.

“From our point of view, it’s just about playing whatever we feel is the strongest team on the day.

“If obviously some injuries get thrown our way later on in the tournament, or when we play the three games in eight days we might have a conversation there but for now it’s full steam ahead.”

South Africa have a healthy net run rate after their comfortable opening victories. Another solid victory tomorrow against Netherlands would take the Proteas to the top of the log after three rounds of fixtures. DM

The Proteas play the Netherlands on Tuesday. The first ball will be bowled at 10:30 CAT.

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